Profile: A uniquely different part of the UK electorally, Northern Ireland has a separate party system with none of the main British political parties contesting seats (although the Conservatives normally put up a few token candidates). Since 2005 the dominant party has been the Democratic Unionist Party, the more handline of the major unionist parties and the vehicle of the grand old man of Ulster politics, the aging Rev Ian Paisley. The more moderate Ulster Unionists, once the Ulster wing of the Conservative party, have been almost wiped from the map. On the nationalist side of the divide politics has also moved to the extremes, with Sinn Fein, the political wing of the IRA, surplanting the more moderate SDLP. Despite the apparent move towards the extremes, a power sharing executive was finally agreed in 2007, led by the supremely odd couple of Ian Paisley, the face of Unionist intransigence for 40 years, and Martin McGuinness, the former IRA commandant in Derry.
Politics still operates on sharply sectarian lines and when seats have changed hands between Unionist and Republican parties it has often been due to electoral pacts or agreements, or the intervention of independent candidates rather than any cross-community voting. Despite the coming of peace to Northern Ireland, there is little sign of politics as normal breaking out yet.
|East Antrim||North Belfast|
|East Belfast||North Down|
|East Londonderry||South Antrim|
|Fermanagh and South Tyrone||South Belfast|
|Mid Ulster||Upper Bann|
|Newry and Armagh||West Belfast|
|North Antrim||West Tyrone|